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#FollowTheLeaders: What Makes A Great Leader?



Over the years, we've had the good fortune of working with many talented entrepreneurs, executives, and thought leaders, each of whom has taught us something different about leadership. Our work with these leaders inspired us to start a blog series in which we ask them to share their thoughts on important topics like leadership, teamwork, and innovation. Introducing Follow The Leaders: a new monthly special from Parklife Insights where accomplished thought leaders share their wisdom on work and life.


For this, our very first installment of the series, we had to go big. We asked three highly successful entrepreneurs to share their thoughts on one pressing question: What makes a great leader? Keep reading to hear their answers!


Ashley Sharp, Executive Director of Dwell with Dignity

Ashley Sharp is an esteemed nonprofit leader whose organization, Dwell with Dignity, designs and installs stunning home interiors for families in need and also reshapes spaces impacting underserved communities. She is a finalist in the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD) 2021 Social Innovation Accelerator pitch competition. Check out her most recent article in Forbes.


To me, a great leader is a great listener and observer. Too often, individuals seek leadership opportunities because they want to be in charge—they desire control, autonomy, and authority. Yet, this approach alienates those you need most to actually be a leader—your team. I aim to be a sounding board for my team; my job is to support them in their jobs, to hear their concerns, and work together to find solutions. By taking the time to learn the skills and gifts of each member on your team, you will know how to best leverage their potential and develop effective, dedicated employees who take ownership in the organization and care just as much, if not more, than you do.


Kevin Jones, CEO of Celero Commerce

Kevin Jones is among the most well-recognized names in the payments industry. He has a history of leading highly profitable companies with cultures grounded in accountability and collaboration. Kevin served on the Board of Directors for the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) for six years, including as President and Chairman in 2019.


I think that being a great leader is complex and that it takes a special blend of characteristics to provide sustainable leadership to a team. I believe that the first realization to being a great leader is that you cannot succeed alone. This helps leaders stay humble and respectful to the value of every team member. You cannot lead without the respect of your team. Getting to know your team and understanding their motivations, being genuine to your beliefs, and having the courage to make difficult decisions are key components to earning respect.


While leaders are responsible for facilitating great vision and strategy in a collaborative manner, it is our job to ensure that vision is clearly articulated at all levels. Once the vision and objectives are clarified, great leaders serve by helping the team grow, stay aligned, and motivated to achieve the objectives. Many leaders work to be liked, but being respected because you push your team to be their best is more sustainable. Everyone loves a comfortable day, but builders stay because they recognize they are being pushed to reach their potential. This isn’t accomplished through leading by force, but instead through leading by example and earning alignment through debate and collaboration.


The best leaders I have interacted with are empathetic, humble, and respectful while also being strategic, demanding, and fiercely energized to the mission.


Trip Holmes, Founder and President of Sabre Capital

For over 35 years, Trip Holmes has helped hundreds of business owners execute successful M&A transactions that surpass their goals and expectations. His consulting and investment banking services help businesses of all industries build enduring value.


A great leader develops and communicates a clear vision and has integrity, honesty, humility, and unwavering confidence. They are not afraid to hire people that might be smarter than them. They possess genuine empathy and take pride in the accomplishments of those they help along the way. Most of all, a true leader welcomes input on key decisions and formulates a well-thought-out action plan.


We'd like to give a special thank you to these entrepreneurs for participating in our first round of #FollowTheLeaders. Stay tuned for more installments in the coming months!

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